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by Eleanor Langford
05 December 2019
Labour announces ‘moral mission’ to end rough sleeping over Christmas

Image credit: PA

Labour announces ‘moral mission’ to end rough sleeping over Christmas

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to “save lives this winter” by ending rough sleeping in the UK within five years.

John Healey, Labour's shadow housing secretary, slammed the government’s record saying “rising homelessness shames us all.''

The announcement comes after a report by charity Shelter found 135,000 children across England and Wales are currently living in temporary accommodation.

It also claimed around 4,000 children would be made homeless by Christmas Day.

Rough sleeping has more than doubled since 2010, and the number of people dying homeless has risen by 50 per cent in the last five years.

Healey accused government ministers of being responsible, and said the Conservatives had “no plan” to tackle the housing crisis. 

He added: “It shames the Conservative Party most of all because it is Conservative decisions to slash funding for hostels, housing benefit, homelessness services and new homes that are directly responsible for this increase in people living and dying on our streets.

The Labour frontbencher also said his party had a “moral mission” to tackle homelessness.

As well as plans to build 100,000 new council houses a year by 2024, Labour has also announced extra funding for hostels, shelters and accommodation.

This includes a total of £800million create 5,000 additional hostel beds and improve existing hostels.

Labour would also start a £100million scheme for emergency winter shelters, and build 4,000 additional “Housing First” homes intended for rough sleepers.

Meanwhile, a Conservative spokesperson defended the Government's “record investment” into tackling homelessness, but admitted “there is more to do”.

They added: “That’s why our manifesto includes raising Stamp Duty for foreign buyers with the £120m expected proceeds going to tackling homelessness, and a commitment to end the scourge of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament.”

The party has pledged £1.2bn towards the issue until 2020, with a further £422m for 2020-21.

Labour also announced on Thursday new plans to improve education standards, following a damning report earlier this week.

According to the OECD, British schoolchildren are among the least satisfied compared with children in other countries.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner promised Labour would “transform educational standards” by capping class sizes and ensuring teachers are qualified. 

The plans also included a boost in per pupil funding, reinstating the Pupil Premium and better support for special needs children.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb responded by saying the report showed that England’s schools have risen up international league tables under the Conservatives.

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